It is that the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point, so inspired me with statements such as the above that I would like to set out what I have learned. With the slightest push — in just the right place it can be tipped.
The business took off, and its founders made a lot of money and received the credit they deserved for being daring visionaries. But around the same time, Bill Gates and Paul Allen came up with an idea even stranger and more fantastical: This was much weirder than the idea of Jobs and Wozniak.
A computer at least had some sort of physical reality to it. It came in a box, you could open it up and plug it in and watch lights blink. An operating system had no tangible incarnation at all. It arrived Tipping point essay a disk, of course, but the disk was, in effect, nothing more than the box that the OS came in.
The product itself was a very long string of ones and zeroes that, when properly installed and coddled, gave you the ability to manipulate other very long strings of ones and zeroes.
Even those few who actually understood what a computer operating system was were apt to think of it as a fantastically arcane engineering prodigy, like a breeder reactor or a U-2 spy plane, and not something that could ever be in the parlance of high-tech "productized.
New releases of operating systems are launched as if they were Hollywood blockbusters, with celebrity endorsements, talk show appearances, and world tours. The market for them is vast enough that people worry about whether it has been monopolized by one company.
Even the least technically-minded people in our society now have at least a hazy idea of what operating systems do; what is more, they have strong opinions about their relative merits.
It is commonly understood, even by technically unsophisticated computer users, that if you have a piece of software that works on your Macintosh, and you move it over onto a Windows machine, it will not run. That this would, in fact, be a laughable and idiotic mistake, like nailing horseshoes to the tires of a Buick.
A person who went into a coma before Microsoft was founded, and woke up now, could pick up this morning's New York Times and understand everything in it--almost: At first he had seemed like such an intelligent and interesting guy, she said, but then "he started going all PC-versus-Mac on me.
And does the operating system business have a future, or only a past? Here is my view, which is entirely subjective; but since I have spent a fair amount of time not only using, but programming, Macintoshes, Windows machines, Linux boxes and the BeOS, perhaps it is not so ill-informed as to be completely worthless.
This is a subjective essay, more review than research paper, and so it might seem unfair or biased compared to the technical reviews you can find in PC magazines.
But ever since the Mac came out, our operating systems have been based on metaphors, and anything with metaphors in it is fair game as far as I'm concerned. One of my friends' dads had an old MGB sports car rusting away in his garage.
Sometimes he would actually manage to get it running and then he would take us for a spin around the block, with a memorable look of wild youthful exhiliration on his face; to his worried passengers, he was a madman, stalling and backfiring around Ames, Iowa and eating the dust of rusty Gremlins and Pintos, but in his own mind he was Dustin Hoffman tooling across the Bay Bridge with the wind in his hair.
In retrospect, this was telling me two things about people's relationship to technology. One was that romance and image go a long way towards shaping their opinions.
If you doubt it and if you have a lot of spare time on your hands just ask anyone who owns a Macintosh and who, on those grounds, imagines him- or herself to be a member of an oppressed minority group.
The other, somewhat subtler point, was that interface is very important.blog comments powered by Disqus.
By offering readers a groundbreaking analysis of how trends are sparked and take hold, Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point became an exemplification of the very processes he was describing.
Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.
The Tipping Point How Little Things Can Make a Big Differene Malcom Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference focuses on defining and outlining why trends and phenomenon occur.
Gladwell outlines the occurrence of trends through three laws: The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and The Power of Context.
The tipping point helps us to realize the most critical factors which make change in communities successful; whether it is in the form of a new intervention or in arresting the spread of a new disease by reversing those factors that are propagating its spread.
Bibliography Gladwell, M., The Tipping Point. London: Abacus. The historic school wants to close the student-aid gap — but first must tackle its own debt. Unfortunately, the Be bug reporting system strips off the names of the people who report the bugs (to protect them from retribution!?) and so I don't know who wrote this.